With benefits on offer including improved responsibility and a more secure sense of companionship, bringing a dog into the family home is almost guaranteed to prove beneficial. There are certainly plenty of parents out there who would recommend this for children who need a little confidence boost, or who are simply struggling to grasp the importance of exercise without a motive – after all, dogs who lovingly rely on their childhood owners are the best possible motivation there could be.
Of course, with there also being a risk that you could bring the wrong dog into your home environment, enjoying even half of those benefits means beginning this journey by making the right decisions for everyone. In particular, ample research should always be spent on considering things like shelters vs breeders and, of course, the breed of dog that you decide on in the first place.
The dog breed debate, in particular, is going to have a massive impact on everything from the temperament to the practicalities of your pooch, meaning that you need to know your best options. If you’re starting with no preconceived ideas, this most often means narrowing things down based on everything from personality traits to physical characteristics and, as we’ll be discussing here – size.
After all, the canine world offers a pretty sizable scope, from chihuahuas right up to St Bernards and everything between. Admittedly, a more gentle temperament, in general, makes many bigger dogs an appealing family option, but that leads us to yet another pressing question which we’ll be helping you to answer here – do you have the space to fit a larger dog breed into your family home?
Consider the differences between big breeds
While it’s easy to segment all ‘big dogs’ into one category, the reality is that even large dogs vary a great deal in size and ultimate requirements. For instance, it would be impossible to compare a big dog like a husky to a massive dog like an Irish wolfhound which will need a whole lot more space to feel comfortable. Equally, big dogs have very different energy levels, with young huskies, in particular, being highly energetic while Irish wolfhounds tend to be a little more relaxed.
With variations like these in mind, it would be madness to assume that every big dog requires the same space requirements. As such, the question as to whether you have enough room for a large dog ultimately comes back to whether or not you’re choosing the right breed. If you’re working with limited space, for instance, recommendations generally point to calm, accommodating big breeds like mastiffs and greyhounds, while you’ll undeniably require a far larger space for a big-hitter like a husky or an Irish wolfhound as mentioned.
Get realistic about room square footage
It’s easy to assume that you’ll have ample room for a big dog if you live in a larger property, but that’s not necessarily the case. Instead, realistic size considerations and capabilities should ultimately come back to room square footage. This is because even, say, a high-ceilinged, large room in an apartment is typically better for big dogs than low-ceilinged, small spaces in even larger properties. After all, your dog is going to need space to stretch and play without risking the whole room emptying due to space limitations the moment they get in there.
Instead of taking your property size overall, then, think about your rooms themselves, and even take measurements where necessary so that you can compare these to the average sizes of your chosen breed. In an ideal world, you want rooms that could fit at least four or more of those big dogs in each instance. That way, you make sure that you can all happily share these spaces without the risk of anyone ever feeling cramped or uncomfortable, or like they need to chuck your big dog out of the family fold.
Always factor for storage
Even the largest homes can be frustratingly short on storage, and this is another crucial factor for deciding whether you can realistically keep a big dog around the place. After all, while you might be able to get away with a small and attractive canister of chihuahua food on your kitchen side, it’ll be a whole lot harder to find similar space for the amounts of husky dog food that you’ll require to keep your husky happy. Equally, further storage considerations like the need to keep far larger leads and collars, and also just dog bowls or toys in general, must be accounted for before you find yourself with an impossible overflow of dog stuff that has nowhere to go.
As such, you need to make sure that you’ve also got plenty of spare cupboards that you can dedicate to this purpose, or at least that you’ve got the spare areas in which you can add dog-specific storage as you need it. This way, you ensure not only that your dog fits within your home, but also that you can stock up on everything that they could need to be happy, without once sending you wild as your home fills with necessary stuff.
Think about your outside space
Pet owners large and small should be well aware that exercise is a crucial element of good pet care, and should be undertaken regularly to maintain a healthy, happy dog that you can all love for a long time. However, with smaller breeds generally happy with a half-hour walk each day while larger breeds like huskies require as long as 80+ minutes, there are pretty sizable differences to note here, too. Not to mention that, while a smaller yard might suffice for a tiny dog, any large dog breed will struggle to make the most of a small yard that leaves them with very little legroom.
As such, it’s also crucial to consider the outside space you have access to when considering practicalities here. Ideally, a large dog should always have access to a large yard where they’re able to run around and get plenty of exercise even while at home. It’s also beneficial to consider the outdoor areas that you have access to in your area, with wide, open fields and woodland areas typically better for large dogs who need to blow off steam than, say, roadside walks that require them to stay on the lead at all times.
Do you have a spare room for this purpose?
While many of our considerations so far have been about making sure that there’s space for a large dog within even your family areas, it’s also important to note that any dog can benefit from having their own space within which to retreat, especially when there are kids in the home. Unfortunately, while a dog bed that fits easily into the corner of any room can be enough to fulfill this need for a smaller breed, the same can’t be said for a large dog that’s going to require a far larger bed.
This is why considering space capabilities here also means thinking about whether you have a room that can at least predominantly belong to your larger dog. This could be a spare room or sizable kitchen that’s often empty, but you need to make sure that you can fit things here including a large enough dog bed and even a crate that fits your dog if you’re crate training. These may seem like small considerations, but they’re essential for helping your dog feel happier and more content, and can even help to avoid destructive behaviors like chewing and barking if you ever have to leave your large dog at home alone.
Consider the extent of the hole to fill in your home
Ultimately, dogs of all sizes can fill holes in our family lives that we may not have even been aware of before their arrival. However, big dogs obviously fill much larger holes than small ones. As such, it’s also worth considering your current dynamics and preferences, and whether there’s space for a large dog within those, let alone your home.
A family that enjoys traveling, for example, may struggle to make space for a big dog that’s far harder to take along with them than a small dog would be. By comparison, a family that enjoys spending time on home turf may find themselves far better able to fit a large dog happily within that. In each instance, considering these things in advance is the best way to ensure that a large dog fits within your hearts as much as it does within your home.
A final word
A family dog can prove beneficial for everyone, and there are plenty of breeds out there from which you can select the ideal fit for your living situation and family needs. Generally gentle bigger dogs can be especially great for young families looking to enjoy the benefits of a canine addition. Simply make sure you have space for a commitment of this size by considering these essentials beforehand.